Mars school board hires 2 police officers to fill force

September 4, 2019 Cranberry Local News

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Financial attorney Anthony Ditka, standing, of Dinsmore & Shohl updated Mars Area School Board on Aug. 26 of the current bond market, which is at a “50-year lows.”

ADAMS TWP — The Mars Area School Board hired two district police officers during a special meeting Aug. 26, ensuring that the district has a full force in place before school begins.

Retired state troopers David Fries and Hank Cacurak, of Pittsburgh were hired as full-time officers at a rate of $24 an hour. Their contracts are effective immediately.

Superintendent Wesley Shipley said the hires complete the district's five-officer team.

“This concludes our entire group for now,” Shipley said. “We'll continue to see additional volunteer substitutes moving forward.”

The district's law enforcement team includes only retired state police. Three district officers will be joined by two Adams Township police officers to create a team of five — one for each school in the district. There is also an officer available as a substitute.

Interest rates and bonds

Financial consultant Anthony Ditka of Dinsmore & Shohl presented the Mars Area School Board with “good news” Aug. 26.

Ditka told the board the bond market is at “50-year lows” and it's a good time to be involved.

Earlier this year, the board opted to refinance the district's 2012 and 2014 A bonds to bring about $700,000 to the district. The funds can be used only for capital projects.

Ditka said during that process, there was discussion about refunding 2015 bonds before the end of the year. The district originally looked for 2 percent interest rates.

Ditka said savings have doubled since the spring.

“It's up to 9 percent,” Ditka said. “It's unbelievable.”

Ditka estimates the district would save at least $20,000 annually over the life of the loan if the market continues.

Ditka encouraged the board to be prepared to enter the market. He said the earliest the district could sell bonds and secure rates is late October. This would allow the district to close in December.

“There's nothing to do this second,” Ditka said. “But at a minimum, I'm asking to be put on your agenda sometime in September or October.”

Board President Dayle Ferguson said the board should plan to begin that process.

Ditka reminded the board that the district is looking to hire one of three investment bankers. Filling this position before October could help with the bond process.

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